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The work before the appeal 

The Los Osos sewer project is coming as close as it’s ever been to getting underway, which is to say basically nowhere.

The latest wrench in an already rusty set of gears came from the California Coastal Commission. On July 15, the commission’s Central Coast District Manager Dan Carl wrote a letter to Public Works Director Paavo Ogren with suggestions on changes the commission would like to see. Carl asked for more work to address seawater intrusion into the Los Osos water supply. He also asked for a better effort to conserve water used during the treatment and disposal process.

The letter comes across as a list of things to take care of before the project reaches the Coastal Commission. Technically, the SLO County Planning Commission could be the last stop for the project. Realistically, however, the planning commission’s decision will likely be appealed to the board of supervisors, and that decision, in turn, will likely be appealed to the Coastal Commission. At each step in the appeal process the previous changes made to the project can be reversed.

“My goal is that we’re trying to make a good project,” said Planning Commissioner Anne Wyatt, “but yeah, there’s that reality of knowing that it’s going upwards.”

In a written statement Ogren provided to New Times, he said, “We are appreciative of the level of attention that Coastal Commission staff has recently devoted to this project, which is well before formal proceedings that may involve the commission.”

In fact, county planning commissioners have feverishly reviewed the project and already made changes to the original design. They moved the treatment facility from the agricultural Tonini Ranch site (on agricultural land outside of the water basin) to the Giacomazzi site near the Los Osos cemetery.

Critics of the Tonini site say water disposed there would not be recharged into the town’s water supply. Any impact to the water supply would come from the site where the treated wastewater is disposed and Public Works engineers said either location of the treatment site would be environmentally equal. As of this printing, commissioners had yet to decide if or where to move the disposal site, but were leaning away from Tonini.

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